KUALA LUMPUR: The luxury superyacht 'Equanimity', believed to be owned by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low will be sold within the next three to four months, said Malaysian Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas on Tuesday (Aug 14).
"We expect the process (of selling the yacht) will be completed within three to four months pending nobody contesting the ownership of the yacht in our courts," said Thomas at a special session during the 2018 International Malaysia Law Conference.
"The money that we get (from the selling) will be transferred into a fixed bank account which will be granted to any party who can successfully establish the ownership of the yacht in a civil suit," he said.
The RM1 billion (US$250 million) superyacht arrived in Malaysia on Aug 7 after being handed over by the Indonesian authorities.
The Equanimity was seized off the coast of Bali by Indonesia in February at the request of US authorities as part of a multi-billion dollar corruption probe launched by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
However, an Indonesian court ruled in April that the seizure was illegal and that the yacht should be returned to its owners.
But Indonesian authorities seized the yacht again in July following a formal request for legal assistance from the US. Indonesia then agreed it would hand over the superyacht to Malaysia.
In a separate matter, Thomas said Jho Low should appoint a lawyer to set aside the warrant order by the Kuala Lumpur High Court against the seizure of the luxury superyacht.
"He should appoint a good shipping lawyer to set aside the order in our Court," Thomas said.
He said this when asked about Low’s comment that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had "hijacked" the legal proceedings of other countries in order to acquire the Equanimity.
Thomas also said that he has no jurisdiction to interfere with the investigations of the police or any other relevant authority such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) or Customs Department.
"Multiple agencies will investigate independently and we receive the IPs (investigation papers) after the investigations are completed. So far, SRC papers came to us," he said.
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is facing criminal breach of trust and abuse of power charges related to funds from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB, before it was taken over by the Ministry of Finance.
It was reported on Aug 7 that 1MDB has claimed ownership of Equanimity, which is docked at the Boustead Cruise Centre in Klang, Selangor.
Other claimants are two of 1MDB subsidiaries and the government of Malaysia, who believe their money was misappropriated in the purchase of the yacht.
It was also reported that the AG’s Chambers has invoked the Admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court in Kuala Lumpur against the yacht and on Aug 6, the court issued a warrant against it.
Commenting about political interference, Thomas said politicians are entitled to speak their mind.
"I do not mind. Principle of subjudice does not exist. I support free speech," he said.
When asked about civil servants who sabotage or leak information to those who had been in the previous government, Thomas said that they will be prosecuted if there is sufficient evidence.
"Charges will be made against several individuals," he said.